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Ca Dacmagic - harsh treble?

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Hi all,


Appreciate this is subjective, and might depend to a large extent upon connections, amp and speakers, but has anyone else found the Dacmagic's treble to be a bit abrasive on the ears?


I'm using the USB connection from my laptop, playing WAVs on WMP, Foobar and iTunes.


in other respects the sound is great with strong bass and good soundstage but the treble will be a deal-killer for me and will mean the Dacmagic will have to go back to the shop unless I can improve it, perhaps by purchasing a high quality USB cable and/ or a Russ Andrews AC-12 PowerPak?


Any thoughts much appreciated.




Laptop - Beresford TC7520 (lightly modded) - Rega Brio3 - B&W602 S3

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Many thanks for your reply.


The measurements may suggest a compromised performance via USB but I've read various listening tests that suggest little or no difference between the inputs.


Guess the thing for me to do is un-box my old pc and run a spdif from it's SB Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro sound card... the only problem with this being that if it does tame the treble I'll probably want to buy a new laptop, or build a new HTPC, with digital out as my old pc is a pretty creaky now.


Interested to know if anyone has tried an upgraded power transformer with the Dacmagic and to what effect?






Laptop - Beresford TC7520 (lightly modded) - Rega Brio3 - B&W602 S3

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I have the Russ Andrews transformer and think it's a worthwhile improvement on the supplied one. For me it improved the clarity of the bass, and made things more dynamic overall, as if the musicians were playing in better time. Not so sure about the treble edge that you describe - it wasn't something I was bothered by in the first place, so it's hard to comment. I suspect that's where musical preferences come in to play as I have read other people complaining about harsh treble.


Incidentally I use toslink optical input, not usb. Not from preference, but because it's linked to an Airport Express. I also upgraded the toslink cable from a Cambridge one with the ugly mini toslink adapter, to a suitably terminated Van den Hul Optocoupler. This didn't make any difference at all on red book rips, but when I did some experiments with higher resolution material (direct from computer as AEX is 44.1 only) I felt that - maybe - it gave clearer treble on things like cymbals, for example. Not nearly as big an upgrade as changing the power supply.


Hope this helps a little.


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Hi souptin, thanks for your reply.


There's a testimonial on the Russ Andrews website claiming the powerpak cured the edgy treble experienced by the writer from their dacmagic but I'd want a bit more evidence than that before I splash the cash, especially since there's currently an 11 day delivery time for the powerpak which would take me beyond my home trial period for the dacmagic.


Going out to purchase a spdif cable to test that route- not that I particularly want to go down it!- so may try and source a transformer as well to see if it produces an improvement although I'm a bit wary becuase I recognise that my issue with the treble may just be an un-resolvable personal preference. Hmm.


Laptop - Beresford TC7520 (lightly modded) - Rega Brio3 - B&W602 S3

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There have been reports of improvements using an alternative PSU that (IIRC) is about £20 from Maplins. Search the forum as it's been meantioned here. The PSU is 12c AC which should help you find it on Maplins website.






...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Hello there,


have you tried using a different filter? I use the Min filter and find that there are subtle differences between each of the three.




jerryt[br]Intel D525MW based server -> m2tech hiface; Cambridge Audio 640c II -> Lyngdorf TDAI 2200 -> Dynaudio Confidence C1, Sunfire HRS-10; Meier-Audio Corda Arietta -> AKG K 701

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If you're in the UK, Maplin sell a suitable replacement psu for around £15. Considerably cheaper than the RA one. Check this topic for links:


(Worth repeating that it is an AC to AC transformer, not the more common AC to DC, so check carefully!)


It's possible that what you don't like about the sound is a result of upsampling. The DM upsamples everything to 192, regardless of the input. Maybe you'd prefer a non-upsampling (or should that be non-oversampling) design? Be warned it's a controversial topic.


Also worth mentioning that many people have found that the supplied DM psu ran very hot, resulting in cracks on the plastic casing or even causing the plastic case to break off completely. There's a form on the Cambridge web site to report such problems and request a replacement:



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Hi all, thanks for the tips.


Back from Maplins with new transformer and straight out of the box I can't really hear a difference (!) although a bit of run in time followed by a back to back comparison will be more revealing. The Ca supplied transformer does indeed run like a kettle and feels pretty flimsy so I'm confident the new one will be better in those respects at least.


There's a fellow on this link suggesting a 9v supply sounds better than 12 but I took the fire-risk safe route and plumped for 12v.



Got some other stuff to do first but my next test will be to reluctantly try out the spdif route.


Thanks again for your replies.






Laptop - Beresford TC7520 (lightly modded) - Rega Brio3 - B&W602 S3

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Hi Matthew, thanks for your input.


Was about to update the thread as I returned the Dacmagic to the shop earlier this afternoon. I tried the optical connection from my pc but still found the dacmagic to be a bit too upfront at the top end for my ears. Plus I really wanted to be able to use my usb-only laptop as the source.


I would have to say that I can understand why the Dacmagic is so well reviewed- I heard new detail on tracks I have played many times and the depth and definition of the bass was a revelation. However, I like quite a warm, sweet, even laid-back sound and, for me, listening to the Dacmagic over extended periods was just a little tiring.


As an aside, I found the Maplins purchased power transformer produced a fuller sound than the Ca-supplied one. Whilst it was a marginal difference and only apparent in back to back comparisons I would certainly have kept the Maplins transformer had I kept the dac.


Laptop - Beresford TC7520 (lightly modded) - Rega Brio3 - B&W602 S3

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No probs! I don't have this problem with the DACMagic, but I have an amp/speaker combination that tends towards the laid back and warm so perhaps the DACMagic suits them quite well.


I have heard good things about the Musical Fidelity V-DAC, which is significantly cheaper than the DACMagic and apparently has a warmer presentation. Also the Beresford 7520 gets a good reception. It would interesting to hear you compare whatever DAC you go for with the DACMagic!


If you found the DACMagic a bit unforgiving in the treble, I'd stay away from the Benchmark DAC-1.




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Thanks for the advice about the Benchmark, that's exactly the kind of tip I'm looking for as I consider my options.


I had a Musical Fidelity amp for the best part of 20 years (if it ain't broke...) and do rate their products very highly. I had read that the v-dac struggled with faster music but will definitely try to audition one.


Also been wading through the Valab posts here and elsewhere and quite tempted to take a punt on one. Any comparative characterisation of its sound against the Dacmagic's would be very welcome at this stage.


I'll also look in to the Beresford; just wish it was easier to audition/ home demo these things.



Laptop - Beresford TC7520 (lightly modded) - Rega Brio3 - B&W602 S3

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Don't forget (if you are in the UK) you are protected by the Distance Selling Regulations which gives you 7 working days to return the product if it doesn't meet your requirements. Obviously you'd rather make the right choice first off but there you go.


One thing to note about the Beresford 7520 is that it is a modular design which can be modded to give a different "flavour", something which is rather more difficult with the DACMagic.


A further piece of advice is check what chip the DACs use - the Linn Majik DS I demoed used the same chip as the DACMagic (Wolfson WM8740) and they sounded identical under blind testing. The circuitry surrounding the chip should greatly effect the sound, but I was unable to tell the difference.


I believe that low cost DACs like the DACMagic/V-DAC/Beresford give you 95% of what is possible under 16-bit audio, and differences are down to "flavour". I think you should definitely be able to find a low cost DAC that meets your requirements.


Good luck!




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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all,


Emailed Beresford about their DACs and received a reply from Stan Beresford. After a few more emails I ordered a Bereford TC-7520 that Stan would lightly tweak according to my music and sound preferences.


The unit's had about 100 hours run in time now and is sounding very good to me. Compared to the Dacmagic (which had about the same run in), and of course according to my ears and with my system, the female vocals on the Beresford are sweeter and the treble's a bit more rounded (and less fatiguing at higher volumes over longer listening periods).


As I remember it, in other respects, such as depth of bass and perhaps clarity of sound, the Dacmagic had the edge but for me the Bereford produces a sound I can happily live with.




Laptop - Beresford TC7520 (lightly modded) - Rega Brio3 - B&W602 S3

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